Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Matanuska Experiment Farm soils testing lab to close

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will close its soils and forage testing lab at the Matanuska Experiment Farm near Palmer.

The Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory is the only comprehensive soils and forage testing laboratory in the state that provides a detailed analysis as a commercial service to the general public and to agencies, according to Milan Shipka, director of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The lab supported soils research and soil analysis for gardeners, farmers, and a variety of borough, state and federal agencies.

Vice Provost Fred Schlutt, who heads the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension, said the decision to close the lab was based on the need to cut the budget due to reduced university funding.

“We’ve been faced with budget decisions that aren’t easy to make,” said Shipka.

An exact date for the closure has not been announced, but the lab stopped accepting soils samples last week. Shipka said the lab will finish analyzing the samples it has received. He said the lab will likely close in February or March but he is working with staff to determine what work needs to be done. One full-time employee has been notified she will lose her job.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service is updating its publication on soils testing labs and locations and is developing similar information on forage testing labs.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Milan Shipka, 907-474-7429,; or Fred Schlutt,

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